Data breach at medical practice: Shock and disgust as 150 patients affected

PUBLISHED: 08:36 06 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:58 06 June 2018

Holt Medical Practice. 

Holt Medical Practice. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Patients are outraged after learning a staff member at a doctors’ practice had been inappropriately accessing their medical records.

Holt Medical Practice has dismissed the employee and written to the roughly 150 patients affected to let them know about the breach and apologise.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) is now investigating after the practice carried out its own enquiries.

Sharon Barker from Melton Constable was one patient affected.

Mrs Barker, 44, said she was “totally shocked” when she learned what had happened. She said: “I began to panic as I didn’t know who had accessed my records. I was scared that maybe it could have been someone who knew me, or my family.

“As you would expect, there’s things you see your doctor for that you wouldn’t want your family to worry over.”

Another patient, who did not want to be named, said: “I think it’s disgusting, really, that someone could do that.”

Another said: “I am very shocked at this breach and feel my entire medical history has been looked at by a complete stranger.”

A spokesman for the practice said: “The person responsible has been dismissed, the matter formally reported to the Information Commissioners Office and measures have been put in place to reduce the likelihood of this happening again.”

The letter, dated June 4, sent to patients from the practice’s business manager, Katie Franklin, said: “We deplore the actions of this single ex-employee and how they abused their position of trust.

“We have no reason to believe that any personal or sensitive information has been shared outside the practice.

“We do not believe that the individual acted with any malicious intent, they recognise the gross error of judgement and they are very sorry for any hurt or upset they may have caused.”

Ms Franklin’s letter said the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England had also been told of the breach.

The incident follows an unrelated data breach at Fakenham Medical Practice which came to light in November last year, in which 230 patients were affected.

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